ProMusica Arizona makes music in the North Valley
By Julie Carlson
The melodic tones of a flute mixed with the solemn strings on a violin and powerful percussion, float dreamlike through the air toward your seat. The sounds of an orchestra, along with the harmonious voices of a choir, carry a range of emotions to the listener.
One such orchestra and choral group is ProMusica Arizona, made up of approximately 100 volunteer performers. “Some of our performers are or have been professional musicians, and others maintain music as an avocation after performing in school, college, or church music groups,” says Connie Campbell Henry, founder and board member of PMAZ. “We are a multi-faceted, multi-generational group.”
If the name ProMusica sounds familiar, it’s because the term, which means “for music,” has been around for centuries, and several music groups in cities across the country share the same name. However, there is no formal connection to any of them.
PMAZ has been delighting audiences since 2003. It began as 17 singers in an interest group at Anthem Country Club’s The Wednesday Club. The first performance was that same year in December, on the patio of Anthem’s Persimmon Club House. By the following year, PMAZ grew to more than 50 singers and formed its own 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The singers also performed with the Phoenix Symphony at Anthem Community Park. “That performance sparked more interest from the public, and local instrumentalists starting asking if PMAZ would start a community orchestra,” explains Campbell Henry.
Members of both the chorale and orchestra come from different corners of the Valley including Carefree, Fountain Hills, Avondale, Ahwatukee, Chandler, Tempe, Anthem, and New River. “We strive to grow our artistry, and each year we have moved the artistic bar a little higher,” says Campbell Henry.
PMAZ meets weekly for rehearsal at Crosswinds Presbyterian Church in North Phoenix. But when it comes to performance venues, PMAZ, like many music groups in the North Valley, has met with challenges. The group has used spaces from school auditoriums to churches.
“Our dream is to someday have a public/private partnership and build a new performance venue to serve the residents of the North Valley,” says Campbell Henry. “Until then we remain undaunted.”
For the 2015-2016 season, which started in October, PMAZ will perform ‘Twas the Night before Christmas on Dec. 4 at American Lutheran Church in Sun City; on Dec. 5 at Crosswinds Presbyterian Church; and on Dec. 6 at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Anthem. The group will also celebrate the music of From Broadway to B.B. King on March 3 at Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion in Carefree, and on March 6 at American Lutheran Church in Sun City. PMAZ will also proudly salute the National Park Service with Sea to Shining Sea: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks at Boulder Creek High School in Anthem on April 22; at Christ Lord Lutheran in Carefree on March 23; and at American Lutheran Church in Sun City on April 24.
“A 12-voice Women’s Chamber Choir has been added to facilitate more community outreach programs,” says Campbell Henry. “We anticipate more than 20 performances of this group this season at Rotary Clubs, retirement communities, and smaller venues.”
Under Artistic Director Adam Stich, who is also the director of choral studies at Scottsdale Community College, and Executive Director Yvonne Dolby, PMAZ welcomes those who would like to audition for the orchestra or chorale, as well as individuals able to volunteer their time and skills as ushers, stage crew, board members, graphic artists, marketing, fundraising, sound, and lighting specialists. General auditions for the orchestra and chorale are held in the late summer and early January.
PMAZ is funded by the state of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts and is a member of Chorus America and the League of American Orchestras. They assist the organization with advocacy, education, research, and leadership development for their board and individual members.
For more information on PMAZ, auditions, and upcoming concerts, visit pmaz.org.
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